The Point

A place in the heart

by Fran McNabb

If you’re not from my corner of the world, “The Point” probably brings up all sorts of meanings. For me and for the tightly knit group of people who grew up on the small peninsula of the Gulf Coast, the name conjures up memories from the past.

The Point, or Point Cadet as some called it, was home to several ethnic groups—Cajuns, Yugoslavians and Italians—most of whom made their living from the seafood industry. Over the years these different groups shared their traditions and food and seemed to meld together while still keeping their own traditions alive. We grew up enjoying foods from all the cultures, such as baccali, jambalaya and gumbo.

Most families had someone who worked as shrimpers or factory workers or owned neighborhood stores and cafes that catered to those families. My mother and father both were seafood workers. Dad had a shrimp boat and Mom worked on and off throughout her life in the factories. My brother and I even tried our hand at part-time work, but quickly learned that life wasn’t for us.

I love to share memories with people who grew up in that part of the world. The other day something reminded me of the “aroma” of the huge oyster shell piles on the beach. I know most people wouldn’t think of that as a good memory, but I loved it. (Thanks to Tiffany Duval for the picture. The picture comes from a time prior to my life, but the piles remained into the late 20th C.)

I love riding down the beach today thinking about what we did as children there. I have to smile at the memory of our moms in their big sunhats following us children who rolled huge truck inner tubes through the streets to get to the beach. What fun!

Most of us lived in the same neighborhood and played with the same friends for our entire school years. I look at our mobile society today and realize that so many young people don’t have that advantage. It was a comfortable life—not rich in material things—but comfortable because of the familiarity of the people around us, the slow rhythms of life, and the traditions that we expected.

I think most of us become nostalgic for the things we loved as children, and many of us try to instill some of the same traditions in our own children. The Point was nearly wiped out by Hurricane Katrina, but though the landmarks might be gone, nothing can take those memories from our hearts.

Everywhere in the world has its own place like “The Point.” Where is yours? Is it in upper New York, in the desserts of the southwest, or in a small town in the Midwest? No matter where the region is, I’m sure you have special memories from your past that are distinctively yours. If you do, you can count yourself as one of the lucky ones.

Mother Nature's Helping Hand

By Fran McNabb

The Gulf Coast is my home. Its miles of beaches and line of barrier islands, and countless winding bayous and bays have been an influence on me, and now I find it's an important influence on my books.

I guess it's true that we write what we know and love.

In ONCE IN A HALF MOON my hero is a charter boat captain who loves the freedom and beauty of the water. Boats have been part of my life as well, and I was fortunate enough to find a husband who loves being on the water as much as I do. Just last week we spent the night anchored at Ship Island, one of the barrier islands just off the coast. He grilled me a steak and we watched the sun set as we ate. Nothing can compare to the awesome beauty of a sunset on the water - unless it's watching the sunrise while drinking coffee on the stern of the boat.

In my February 2010 release ON THE CREST OF A WAVE, my heroine finds herself helping a Union officer on this same island. Where we anchored I could see the fort that was taken over by the Union forces in the early part of the Civil War and then used as a Confederate Prisoner of War Camp. It's hard to walk the island today over a hundred years later and not think about what happened on that barren stretch of sand. How can you not be creative in a setting like that?

I'm always asked where I get the ideas for my novels. It's hard to say how ideas originate. One day your mind is a blank slate and the next your fingers are flying across the keyboard. I guess if I'm honest with myself, my surroundings play an important role in formulating stories, and I'm lucky enough to live where nature evokes an emotional response and strikes a creative chord.

Think about your surroundings. Do you live in the mountains, the plains, a coastline or in a big city? Sometimes we take for granted what we see every day. Today, take a moment and actually see the beauty and the awe that Mother Nature has provided. You never know if the idea for your next book is waiting for you to discover it there.

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Copyright 2018 by Fran McNabb
Photos courtesy of Fran McNabb
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